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The Christian LeBlanc Interview – The Young and the Restless

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This week’s special On-Air On-Soaps birthday boy is three-time Daytime Emmy winner, Christian LeBlanc.  Known for his extraordinary performances as the quirky legal eagle, Michael Baldwin, whose past and family put the “D” in dysfunctional, LeBlanc is heralded as one of the greatest dramatic daytime performers ever to hit our small screens.  But, many have also noticed the amazing timing and comedic brilliance of this guy, both on and off the screen.  Just a few weeks ago, after watching soap pal, Days of our Lives star Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe) take her turn as guest-host of the live SNL type sketch comedy show in Los Angeles, ACME Saturday Night, LeBlanc decided he would like to give it a whirl!  His colleagues and pals already knew this seemed like a perfect fit for his talents.  And so this Saturday night, August 28th, Christian (in front of a live audience, and also streaming live to audiences on the web) will tackle a new frontier in his career, as part of his birthday celebration.

In this funny, candid, and revealing interview, Christian details: the process of putting together the ACME show, his hilarious hosting stint at the recent Creative Arts Daytime Emmy Awards ceremonies, and the importance of trying new outlets for yourself at any age.  But that’s not all!  For Y&R fans, we get a preview of what’s next for Michael Baldwin, discussing Michael and Phyllis’ on-screen bff friendship, the ending of the Lauren/Sarah Smythe doppelganger storyline, and more.  And, when As the World Turns signs off the airwaves in a few weeks, who else but LeBlanc can put into words how much the show has meant, because it is the place where we first saw his remarkable talents.

So, let’s send birthday wishes his way, eat some cake, and get ready to watch Christian this Saturday night!  To get tickets if you are in the Southern California area, or to watch the show online, visit ACME’s website by clicking here!

MICHAEL:

First off, Happy Birthday Christian!  So for the occasion, you decided to top this week off with trying your hand at sketch-comedy?

CHRISTIAN:

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I always do some new adventure for my birthday, be it an external or internal one, but this is also something I have always wanted to do.  People for years have been telling me to do comedy, comedy, comedy, and stand-up!  I would say, “No.  That is the hardest thing in the world.  You have to write your own material and work it out.”  It’s something I would love to try, but it’s one of those things you put off forever.  So, finally like my French and piano playing (I started speaking French at my last birthday, and then I started the piano playing) this is something different I have always wanted to attempt or learn.

MICHAEL:

The good thing about this is… it’s sketch comedy.  I would die if I ever had to do a stand-up comedy routine!

CHRISTIAN:

I had friends from New Orleans when I first moved to New York that would do stand-up, and it was my job to clap and laugh, and to drown the drunks out. (Laughs)  To see Nadia Bjorlin get up and do ACME Saturday Night the other week, I did not know what it was supposed to be like.  Both Eden Riegel (Heather, Y&R) and Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe Y&R) had told me that show is very funny, since they both hosted it before.  I just meant to laugh and clap because that is what a friend does, but it was great.

MICHAEL:

Did your cast mates, Eden or Elizabeth, give you any tips in preparation for Saturday night?

CHRISTIAN:

They were telling me to do this show before I even showed up to watch Nadia’s!  Elizabeth was going, “Oh, you would be perfect!”  And I would go, “Elizabeth, weren’t you nervous?”  And she said, “Not till the day of… before that I was fine.”  I was like, “Oh, shut up…bitch!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

You will be great!  But what did the ACME troupe pitch you for the sketches?

CHRISTIAN:

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I cannot tell you, because I want you to be surprised.  As I got my scenes pitched to me earlier this week, it was an amazing process to watch.  They come up to you one-on-one and pitch the scenes to you they wrote.  The writing part of sketch comedy is what amazes me.

MICHAEL:

But recently, you did some comedy shtick and wrote it, too, when you hosted the 37th Annual Creative Arts Emmys, correct?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes.  For the Creative Arts Emmys in June, I did write that bit in it in two days.  I got a lot of response from it, but I knew in my heart that I needed more time.  It was really fun and it was terrifying.  I mean, first I walked out in my underwear, and you think after that there is nothing! (Laughs) And, I read a letter of apology to our wardrobe department.  There were 54 categories to get through, and I would only have one or two minute increments in between.  So I made this up; that I had a fight with wardrobe and that I had to read this letter of apology, and then later on, I did a slideshow.  I made slides of actors before and after make-up and hair.  And in presenting this I said with a straight face, “I am going to show you just how much power the Creative Arts Emmys have on the day to day lives of performers.”  Then we started showing the slides, and I said, “Here is Nadia Bjorlin before…” So I had Jeanne Cooper come in to Y&R with no make-up and hair not made up, and that was the shot.  And after that, there was a beautiful shot of Nadia Bjorlin.  Then I go, “This is James Scott (EJ, DAYS) before.”  James Scott is very shy and does not like to be in hair and make-up.  And so, it’s a picture of Patti Denney and Kathy Jones from Y&R’s make-up department dragging Jeanne Cooper on the floor.  It had her kicking and screaming into make-up and hair.  So then I go, “Look what happens afterwards!”  Then, it was a beautiful picture of James Scott.  Then I go, “Here’s me. Christian before…” which is a nice head shot of me. And, “This is Christian after”, and it’s Brandon Beemer (Owen, B&B) without clothes.  The last one is, “Here’s Jeanne Cooper before make-up.” And, it’s a skeleton, and then the after picture was Jeanne Cooper.  Jeanne pulled in a favor. God bless her.  That is the closest I ever got to stand-up.  Some of it sounded like it hit, some of it I was not so sure. We did this sober-ish. (Laughs)  And more people have come to me the months since then, and told me it added some “pop”.  It was only five minutes in the whole three hours of the presentation of the Emmys. 

MICHAEL:

So let’s go back to the ACME pitch meeting.  I am intrigued by this.  (Laughs)  So you have the right to refuse the pitches, and go, “yes or no”?

CHRISTIAN:

They all come pitch you.  They all take their turn, and they are all very excited if their sketch gets picked.  This is their big chance.  You have a stack of 15 skits, and you go up on stage and you act them all out, and they direct it a little.  They give some feedback and I listen.  Then, they bring out props, etc, and we do it full force.  Then you go to the back of the theatre with the director and the producer, and they speak frankly. “What do you think?”  I know what I am comfortable with; I mean there was a proctology exam that did not make the cut.  But funny.  So I relied on them, and I picked the ones that I was not that comfortable with.  Doing the opening, that part of it is comfortable for me.  And so you pick four scenes, and they round the show out with some of their own sketches, because you need to change and get ready for the next sketch.  So, my appearances are spaced out.

MICHAEL:

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Did they do research on your career, and who you play on Y&R, your Emmys, etc. to perhaps integrate bits of that into the show?

CHRISTIAN:

They do their research.  They ask you ten questions.  One of them is, “What would you like to avoid?”  In which I answered, “I would like to avoid being not funny!”

MICHAEL:

So it’s always a work in progress?

CHRISTIAN:

I don’t get scripts again till mid-week, and I will tape a video short on Thursday. Nadia’s video was hysterical, with the pepper spray going, “Are you here to rape me?”  So I don’t know till Saturday, when we rehearse all day and go do the show.   I know with the four sketches I picked, they will have re-written them and done the fixes we talked about.  It’s a work in progress the whole time.

MICHAEL:

Are you a fan of Saturday Night Live? Over the years, have you watched it regularly?

CHRISTIAN:

Yes, I am a big fan of sketch comedy.  I love Kids in the Hall and I love SNL.  But even watching SNL from beginning to end, it’s bad.  But that is comedy.

MICHAEL:

Will your cast mates be in attendance this Saturday?

CHRISTIAN:

Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) will be there, and James Scott, Nadia and Brandon, too.  I am going to have a ball.

MICHAEL:

Ok, what day was your birthday, and how old are you?  If I recall, for fifty you took your clothes off in a sexy photo shoot!

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CHRISTIAN:

My birthday was Wednesday.  I am fifty-two this year.  For fifty, I did the nude shots, which play, just so you know, in to my opening monologues.  I continually set goals and things. They are things I have saved up that I always wanted to do.  One of them, as I mentioned earlier was piano class and the other was singing.  I also kind of started the French lessons last year.  My French tutor is from Paris, and you do these batches of interviews for the Monte Carlo Television Festival, and in one of the articles, it says, “Christian LeBlanc speaks French well!”  So I am printing that and framing it and putting it in my dressing room. (Laughs)  It’s one of my best birthday gifts ever.  This year, I want to do lots of small trips.  One of the things I want to go do is to touch one of the largest living things in the world, which is the Sequoia.  Last year I went all over England, and I was with all these great British people.  I said, “If I want to go to a castle, you just shut up and go!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So what can we tell Y&R fans; of why they should come down to the theatre on Saturday?  Will there be a take-off of The Young and the Restless opening, perhaps?

CHRISTIAN:

No, I don’t think so.  But you never know with this group.  I would say for fans; it’s the most fun they can have with their clothes on!  Come see it, because it’s just like a train-wreck… you won’t be able to take your eyes away!

MICHAEL:

It is really important now for daytime actors to expand their reach, especially with the difficult times the industry has fallen into.

CHRISTIAN:

The soap business is hard right now.  It’s hard to do what I want to do anyway, which is I want to make gold every time I walk out there and say a line.

MICHAEL:

Coming up on Y&R, will we see more of Michael involved with the Lauren/Jill feud, or perhaps, something else?

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CHRISTIAN:

You will see legal Michael quite soon, I believe, and you will see fireworks!  I have not filmed them yet or seen the scripts yet, but I am seeing them coming my way.  It should be very interesting.

MICHAEL:

I have to tell you, I thought your scenes at the culmination of the Lauren/Sarah Doppelganger storyline, where Tracey E. Bregman played both parts was sensational.  The mirror scenes alone were great drama!

CHRISTIAN:

My ego was thinking when I was sitting there with Tracey Bregman going, “Oh, I would have loved triplets or quadruplets!”  Tracey is like “Oh, God!”  We did the big ending that was a take off on the motion picture, The Lady from Shanghai, and that was a 5AM shoot.  I was never more proud of everyone!

MICHAEL:

Christian, you have told me in previous interviews, it is always something you look for in scripts, and in the performance, to take something and make them real Michael moments, no matter what is given to you.

CHRISTIAN:

When you are patient it will come, and like anyone, I have a big enough ego.  It is a hard thing to do, and you can do all this wonderful work, but it’s also so technical.  The mirror stuff was brilliant and yet hard.  I had a ball, but you had to work through all the technicalities, and I imagine it’s like working with CGI.  You really have to work as an actor.  But from all that, I had some of the most difficult and wonderful scenes with Tracey, and I got to have the arguments with Tracey that Lauren and Michael can’t have, but Sarah Smythe and Michael had.  First, my wife telling me she doesn’t love me anymore. Then, getting a phone call where my wife told me she slept with someone else.  And then, getting a phone call from my wife sounding like she did in the old days, and how that kills you in an argument when you are breaking up.  As an actor, I did not have to look at Tracey as Sarah.  I just had to look at her as Lauren.  I did not have to buy any weird scheme.  All I had to play was a simple theme between a man and his wife, who he adores, and he is now broken-hearted, and protecting his son.  So when you don’t want to play the happy couple, and you want to sink your teeth into something, this is the stuff to do that with.

MICHAEL:

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What would happen if they SORAS’d Michael and Lauren’s son Fenmore, and he was all of a sudden a 13-year-old?

CHRISTIAN:

They could and would.  I think Fenmore now is at a great age, and the actor, Robbie Tucker (Fenmore), is so wonderful. We have a ball.

MICHAEL:

Would you want Fenmore to be a problem child?

CHRISTIAN:

I want Fenmore to be different.  I want him to be a smart-ass because I play him that way.  He would be Michael back to me, you know how children sometimes are, like little Michael and big Michael… really smart and verbal, which he is.  And, he is very capable of playing that.  I make him a hellion when he is not even there or on-screen.  I think for Michael, it’s much more interesting to have a child that is wearing you out!

MICHAEL:

Michelle Stafford and you are great friends off-screen, and on Y&R, Michael and Phyllis are the best of friends through thick and thin.  Did the through line of that great on-screen relationship develop because of your real life bond?  Recent scenes where Michael was there for Phyllis, as he watched the disintegration of her marriage to Nick were electric. Why do you think the Michael/Phyllis scenes work so well?

CHRISTIAN:

It is because I think Michelle is a phenomenal actress, if not one of the best actresses on television, and she makes me better.  So it’s the excitement of all your senses coming alive when you are being challenged.

MICHAEL:

She draws you in as an actress.

CHRISTIAN:

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Our styles mesh, like Tracey and mine mesh.  I am so lucky that I also have people in my on-screen family such as Greg Rikaart (Kevin, Y&R), that whenever we have scenes together they are effortless.  But with Michelle in particular, because it’s something you don’t see, that is why people are drawn to it.  You know Michael and Phyllis were lovers once!  You have this great relationship between two ex-lovers, and they are a man and woman.  I don’t think you usually see that dynamic as much on other soaps. Then there is that they both have this evil background.  So, there is this real hint of mischief about it, and a hint of trouble-a-brewing always… either with Michael or her.  They understand that.  Not only do you have two kinds of shady people with their past, you have two ex-lovers, and so they know each other. The biggest compliment I have received in scenes with Michelle is that you can see they (Michael and Phyllis) have been friends a long time, and they have that comfort with each other and they act that way.

MICHAEL:

With Lauralee Bell’s recent return visit to Y&R as Christine, will they continue to whitewash his attempted rape and his attacks and harassment on Christine years ago?  In your mind, is this swept under the carpet?

CHRISTIAN:

No.  I showed it in the scenes I had, and there is a great one coming up.  It’s short, but that is the joy of it.  You can do something like that in a scene with just a look.  It’s not forgotten, and I don’t forget it.  Anytime Michael is with Christine it is electric, because this is part of his past, and you don’t see one another that often. There is always that with Christine.  You cannot let something that juicy go.  Thank God, the writers gave us a sweet little hard scene to play.  In a few minutes you had to play years of history.  You don’t need a three act opera, and that is the goal of a good actor.

MICHAEL:

We are three weeks away now from the ending of As the World Turns, the show that got you your first big break and start in daytime.  Can you comment on ATWT going off the air?  What are your thoughts on it?  It must hold an incredibly special place in your heart.

CHRISTIAN:

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It’s just sad.  All things come to an end.  An actor’s life is an actor’s life.  We are gypsies and we move around.  We have gotten some great people on our show from there and now we are bringing on Maura West (Carly, ATWT, soon-to-be Diane, Y&R) and I am so excited for us.  She is a heavy hitter.  But, Don Hastings (Bob, ATWT) and Kathryn Hays (Kim, ATWT) they are amazing people.  I would not be here if it wasn’t for the people who taught me how to act on that show.  I did not even have acting classes before I started on As the World Turns, and they believed in me.  The legends were there.  Betty Rea was the casting director extraordinaire, and Mary Ellis-Bunim was the producer, who now does Real World. Julianne Moore was with me, Marisa Tomei, Meg Ryan, Margaret Colin, Justin Deas, and I know all these guys.  It taught me to speak a language that has gotten me through and propelled me.  If I am a good actor at all, it’s because of these people, and them giving me a chance.  I mean, I was raw.  It took a Betty Rea, who auditioned me to get my break there, and she would yell at me like a son, and I would answer!

MICHAEL:

Some fans have a hard time with Y&R now, with the influx of many younger and new characters to the canvas, or recasts, while not concentrating on the core signature characters of their soap.  One thought you hear throughout the industry recently, is that in order for daytime soaps to stay on the air, they have to trim the fat of their cast and get down to brass tacks, or the bare bones.  What are your thoughts on core characters vs. adding newbies, with the state of the genre right now?

CHRISTIAN:

Everything can be done right.  You want great writing, so pay your writers. You want actors who can really act.  If you do all those things, and you want to bring more people and new people in, it’s all fine.  As an actor, you want to work all the time because we are all whores.  My thing is always jokingly, Christian LeBlanc’s, The Young and the Restless. (Laughs) That is forever my pitch.  If I have an Emmy, it’s because I had great actors around me.  I so know that.  I think rather than look at it from numbers perspective, if it can be written well, and the actors can step-up, then you have no problems.  But you have to start with the basics.

MICHAEL:

When you do courtroom scenes, and have so much legalese to perform, do you ever just break out laughing from the difficulty and the wordiness of it all?  

CHRISTIAN:

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Those are my best moments.  I am the only one who loves court.  I will swear to you now, I am the only one off set that lights up when there is a five page monologue.  I have to tell you it was my first months on the show, and they gave me my first case, and it was about a black student who was suing the school system.  I gave a speech, and I am telling you they had 12 on the jury and those extra’s cried, and that is all I cared about.  That was like doing theatre.  When you are in the court you are given that little extra allowance to be dramatic, because it is a performance, of sorts. They give you smart and wonderful, beautiful words.  They give us freedom to correct things from our character’s past that aren’t relevant, that we know from our time on the show.  It gives me, in the courtroom, an opportunity to show a darker side of Michael, too.  When he is a shark in the courtroom and goes for the jugular, those are great moments.  We laugh and joke off-set, but when I am in the court, I take it very seriously and make it work.

MICHAEL:

Since we began this interview about being comedic, who do you think is funny?

CHRISTIAN:

I think I am a big one for watching the Roasts.  I have not seen the Comedy Central David Hasselhoff Roast yet, but I have it on tape.  I think Alec Baldwin is hysterical and he is a great actor.  I think of him on 30 Rock and him hosting Saturday Night Live and doing “Schweaty Balls”, is one of the funniest and most hysterical things.  I like Steve Martin, back in the day when he was hosting SNL all the time.  Gilda Radner was brilliant and genius.  Those people wrote their material and also were great actors.  I think that is what makes good comedy… you really have to get commitment.  And, at the ACME Theatre Company they do that, too. You think it’s scattered chaos, but it’s not.  It’s probably why it’s difficult.  It’s all in the timing and the precision of surgery.  Timing is not something that can always be taught to you, it has to be something very innate.

MICHAEL:

Are you the true funny man on the set of Y&R that everyone says you are, or is there someone else?

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CHRISTIAN:

I think Joshua Morrow (Nick, Y&R) is probably the only person who can make me dissolve into laughter.  He is funny, and he is that dry, intelligent type of funny.  You would never know it, but he is!

MICHAEL:

Ok, Christian.  I will be there on Saturday night to clap loud and drown out the drunks for you, no matter what happens.  But I am sure you will be fantastic and have us all in stitches!

CHRISTIAN:

When you bring the flowers for me, don’t throw them overhand… throw them underhand.  Remember, you’re not trying to kill someone! (Laughs)

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Mitch
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Mitch

Great interview, very informative!

Doe
Guest
Doe

Michael, I am so excited that you have his interview. Christian happens to be my favorite actor. His acting is always flawless and gets to me everytime he does something extraordinary, which is always! I wish I could see his performance Saturday, but I don’t live in the south. Good luck to you, Christian. I know you will knock them dead…. Great interview, Michael….

Candice Ryan
Guest
Candice Ryan

I love Christian and Tracey together. They were incredible during the Sarah/Lauren story and both deserve Emmy’s this year. Congratulations Christina on another birthday and birthday challenge!

And here’s to a Christian/Tracey Young and the Restless!!!!

Judy L-E (Facebook)
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Judy L-E (Facebook)

Great interview, Christian….good luck Sat. night

Rob
Guest
Rob

God I hope I look as good at 52!!

scarlett christensen
Guest
scarlett christensen

Does anyone know if michelle stafford and christian leblanc are an item since
there together all the time.

Dee
Guest
Dee

I am a little late in making a comment..but I do Love Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin) he is the only reason i even watch Y and R..his acting is superb and his looks are awesome..and the man has a fabulous body..I would so love to see him more on Y and R without the suit on and making some hot love with Lauren..but we get nothing as CLB fans and TEB fans..its disgusting..and I think the show has deteriorated to nonesense and so plot driven it makes no sense most of the time..Thanks for the article Michael..hope you have many… Read more »

Interviews

B&B’s Scott Clifton and Don Diamont Talk on the Plight of Liam & Bill and Their Cover-Up of Vinny’s Death

If you are watching current episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful then you know that Scott Clifton (Liam) and his on-screen father, Don Diamont (Bill Spencer) have been spending plenty of time together in scenes in very dramatic and intense fashion.

In story, Liam is guilt-ridden over running down Vinny Carter (Joe LoCicero) by accident when he was driving Bill’s car.  Since the moment that Vinny was killed, Bill leapt into action, destroying any evidence tying the two to the scene of the crime and continually demanding that Liam let this go and move on with his life, or the implications for the both of them could certainly be a long jail sentence, or worse.

Photo: JPI

Now as Liam is finally making headway in a reconciliation with Hope (remember his last secret – sleeping with Steffy – was quite the doozy), this new secret of what he has done, and hiding, could up the stakes even more and take him away from his family for good … or would Hope (Annika Noelle) after finding out what Liam did be the nail in his coffin that ends their relationship once and for all and kicks him to the curb?

Courtesy/CBS

Both, Scott Clifton and Don Diamont chatted virtually with Michael Fairman exclusively for You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel to offer up for viewers and fans of The Bold and the Beautiful: an inside look at what goes on when they tape their scenes, how they see their characters motivations, and they serve up a preview of what may lie ahead in this tangled web that Bill and Liam have unfortunately weaved.

Photo: JPI

Check out the humorous, candid, and enlightening conversation with two of the leads and mainstays of this CBS Daytime drama series below.

Then let us know; how do you think Liam and Bill can get out of the mess they find themselves in? Will Liam crumble and spill the beans? Will everyone in town get on to them and figure out the secret they have been keeping? Share your thoughts and theories via the comment section after taking a look at the virtual conversation.

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Days Of Our Lives

Kevin Spirtas Talks ‘After Forever’s’ Digital Special ‘Riley’s Unforgettable School Project’, The Loss of Michael Slade, and a Chance to Reprise DAYS Craig Wesley

The coronavirus pandemic has put to the test many content creators on just how they would keep their projects moving forward in ways they never dreamed of. However, out of that situation has come some of the most compelling, unique series, specials, and features currently streaming for viewers. One of which is Riley’s Unforgettable School Project, brought to you by the team from the six-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning series, After Forever.

Former Days of our Lives star, Kevin Spirtas (Ex-Craig Wesley) has starred in and created the first two seasons of what has become the most honored Emmy-awarded LGBTQ-themed drama series on any platform.  Along with his ‘After Forever’ writing/producing partner, the late Michael Slade (DAYS, OLTL, Passions, Another World), the two also conceptualized and delivered this latest documentary-style offering now on Amazon Prime Video.

What makes Riley’s Unforgettable School Project so noteworthy is not just how they were able to execute the series based on fictional 11-year-old Riley’s virtual school project and utilize its cast, which includes: Spirtas, Cady Huffman, Jamison Stern, Lenny Wolpe, Erin Cherry, Anita Gillette, Christopher J. Hanke, and Finn Douglas, but that it was made while Slade was succumbing to his battle with cancer, and that this special marks the final script from this talented writer.

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Spirtas about making the special during Covid-19, how the death of Michael Slade has made a lasting impact on his life, what After Forever has personally meant to him, and how an official third season is still in the works, and … if he would consider a return to Salem and Days of our Lives, should they come a-calling.  Here’s what Kevin had to say about it all.

Photo: AfterForever

I think the entire story of this digital special has become even more meaningful with Michael Slade’s passing. What was the genesis of the concept? You wanted to continue the telling of the story of After Forever … but we are all in the middle of a pandemic?

KEVIN:  Yes and… when we filmed season 2, we had the scripts for season 3 already completed. It was our hope and desire to film them at the same time, back-to-back, so that we would have had all of our cast and crew together, and we could have gotten through it because we’ve always imagined this story being told in a trilogy so to speak – a beginning, middle, and end to Brian (Spirtas) and Jason, (Mitchell Anderson) and Brian’s healing or his steps towards healing through grief.  Schedules turned out that they couldn’t really work out for us to hold all the people and hold all of the sets for that amount of time.  So, we thought, “We’ve got the scripts for season 3 ready.  We’ll come back to it in the following year,” and that was always the intention, and then the pandemic hit.  So, it was shut down immediately that we weren’t going to do anything, but we wanted to stay current, and instead of going back in and telling the third installment of After Forever as a Covid-19 story as well, Michael and I sat down and looked at a way of staying relevant and current with a story within COVID, and there was born the idea to do this documentary style story/special about the characters of After Forever told through the lens of the character of Riley, the 11-year-old boy, who is now being homeschooled during the pandemic. He gets an assignment to do a project about the most unforgettable person he has ever met, and he, of course, chooses his best friend, the late Jason Adams, and he enlists all of Jason’s friends and family to join in.  Michael actually said, “What if we tell a story about Riley being homeschooled?” And, not only is Riley a technical genius at 11-years-old in the story, but Finn Douglas, who plays Riley, is a technical genius.

And didn’t Finn perform and write the song “Forever There” contained within the special?

KEVIN. Yes. He is this incredible musician.  Michael thought, “What would it be like if we asked to have the character of Finn sing a song for Jason?”  I said, “Well, what kind of song would we have him sing?”  Finn could play anything, I’m sure, because he’s self-taught, he plays by ear – guitar, piano, and drums.  Michael said, “What if we ask him to see if he could write a song?” and when we heard this song, we all called each other and we all got on Zoom and went, “Can you believe this song?  Can you believe this came out of this 11-year-old?”  It’s pretty incredible.  Michael did a gorgeous job of weaving the stories in and out and how they just sort of dove-tailed into each other, and then it was framed by Riley opening the project and ending the project.  During the Zoom reading we wanted to hear the song out loud.  We said to Finn, “Would you want to sing the song?”  We all just watched everybody on that Zoom call just fall apart.  It was just so beautiful. He’s an amazing talent.

Where is your character within this?

KEVIN:  I still stand in the center of the story of Jason because my character, Brian, was married to Jason, and it sort of connects us all, and through Riley’s understanding of how we all connect to Jason, is how we are all sort of spread out throughout the story.  Michael jokingly said, “You know, you’re not going to be the star of this special,” and I said, “I don’t think it’s about being the star.  It’s really about the storytelling.”  The beauty of Riley’s Unforgettable School Project is that we get to see moments of each person’s relationship with Jason, which Riley sets out to say, “Answer these three questions: What did you like most about Jason?  What did you like least about Jason? And what’s your favorite memory?”  Those three things, cut back and forth is where we all kind of fit in.  Nobody has more of a story than the next person, and it’s all telling honest portrayals of how they’re dealing with their loss of their good friend, or their child, or partner.

It’s a very inventive idea during Covid-19 to continue it in a way where you weren’t having to go shoot a full season of episodes.

KEVIN:  Well, we couldn’t. I have to say, Allison Vanore, who not only produced this special, but she also stepped up saying, “I’d love to direct this,” and I said, “Yes, please!”  She knows the characters.  She understands the story because she’s been a part of it for the last two seasons.  Allison also has this extraordinary amount of knowledge and expertise with the camera and what was needed for a remote shoot, and to also be able to organize filming 13 people in 2 different countries and 5 different cities… that’s just the technical side of it, but having that in our back pocket, knowing that it was a remote shoot, we had to send the camera, the computer, the ring light, and the microphone to each person’s house.  We had to location scout over Zoom.  We had to do wardrobe over Zoom.  It was all this big puzzle putting it together, and once you look at that board of storytelling and how we were going to do it, it kind of fell into place.  I feel blessed that a) we still had Michael with us, at that point, and b) Allison had the know-how to do this.  We all feel that at least this pandemic didn’t keep us from doing what we love.

Photo: AfterForever

In terms of the contribution of Michael Slade in this special, was it the construction of the story, and how was he able to work and write this during his illness?

KEVIN:  Michael’s contribution to the special was no less than the contribution to season 1 and season 2, and the future of season 3, because the scripts are written.  We did everything on Zoom, and we worked around his schedule of treatment.  We scheduled 2 people per day, and we spread them out over two weeks.  He was very present, and when there would be a day where he would say, “I’m going to be an hour late, let’s just push that call time,” I would ask, “Is this too much right now?  We can shelve it; we can stop it.” He’d then say, “Absolutely not, otherwise cancer will win.”  He was determined to stay focused and to stay active because it took his mind off of what was happening to him.

Photo: AfterForever

It would be lovely moment if you both were to win a Daytime Emmy for this project. 

KEVIN:  It’s our last collaboration together as a team, as I said, season 3 has been scripted, and it is on the calendar to get made.  We are just waiting for the COVID restrictions to lift a little bit and everyone to get vaccinated.  Michael was really hit hard with cancer – to stay healthy was so challenging for him.  Sadly, he didn’t make it to see the final edit of the special, and he died four days before we launched, but he had seen the cuts before that and was very approving of it, and had made some decisions, and offered some suggestions, and if God gives him an Emmy for this, it’s not because he died.  It’s because it’s great work.  It just happens to be that the work that was involved in this particular special was very tricky.  It brought up everything, like life itself to have to deal with.  Here we are dealing with the loss of a colleague, the loss of a friend, someone’s brother, someone’s son, this is life imitating art, imitating art imitating life. I can’t tell you the darkness that I went through just experiencing the need to stay focused on getting everything edited, and everything ready, and everything aligned for a release of this project that we had put into motion.  On top of it, our editor lost his mother just before Michael passed, and Allison’s mom was sick at the time, as well.  It took a lot of heavy deep breaths with Michael’s death, and the pandemic, and the loss has, for me, on a personal level, sent me back to really questioning my spiritual muscle and to help remind me that we have to come out of this better than we went into this.  I had many dark nights of the soul this last year, and December was probably the darkest.  I feel like I’m just kind of coming out of it now with the spring revealing itself.

Photo: AfterForever

It must have been extraordinarily difficult for you to also go to New York during a pandemic and also knowing Michael did not have much time left.

KEVIN:  I will say this: I am grateful that I was able to stay in touch with my heart and my instinct and go out to New York to let that be my remote location.  Yes, maybe there was some risk involved.  I wore my mask; I was Covid-19 negative, and I was determined to be fine.  Once I got to New York, I would visit him very protectively with our masks and our gloves, and I’d sit across the room, and then I’d go back to the house I was at.  It was a gift that I was able to see him at that time.  We had some good talks then about how he was feeling, and I think he was still being optimistic, and then once we got the project in the can there was maybe this psychic letting go. That’s when everything really started to reveal itself as this could be the end.  I did go back to see him when he was in hospice.  I think I was there the last two days that he really was able to really stay coherent.  He would close his eyes and be at peace and quiet for a minute, and he would finish a conversation and sort of close his eyes, not to sleep and not to go away, but I remember watching him going, “Look how peaceful he is,” and then he’d open his eyes and he’d remember that he is in this body that has been given a time limit of life, and he’s on his way out.  I’d watch the fear go back in his eyes.  At one point, he did say, “I’m so scared,” and I just held his hand, and I said, “I’m scared too.  Let’s be scared through this together.”  I don’t know how to navigate grief like that.  We are all going to be in a position at some point where we are going to be on the other side of the hand holding.  The wonderful thing is that we were able to have honest communication about our feelings.  I thanked him for everything that he has done for me and how he believed in my talent and creativity and our partnership.  I will always take that with me.  I waved my finger at him, and I said, “Listen.  Now, we wrote a series about a man talking to his deceased husband.  You’d better talk to me!”  So, we laughed about that.

Photo: AfterForever

You’ve done a lot of things in your career from Broadway to television, and of course, daytime fans know you best as Dr. Craig Wesley on DAYS.  How does the entire After Forever project stack up to you within all that you have done?

KEVIN:  Former DAYS casting director Fran Bascom, sought me out and offered me this 2-day role on Days of Our Lives, and those 2 days turned into 8 years, and unbeknownst to me at the time, the final 3 months of that contract of those 8 years, Michael Slade was brought in to write.  We didn’t cross paths at that point, but years later, when we did cross paths in New York, and then After Forever was born, that was that universal crossing point.  I am most proud of the fact that we were able create something fresh, and real, and personal to ourselves that we didn’t have to cater to any “powers that be” that had their vision and their tinkering, that they thought that it could be better in this way or that way.  Then for After Forever to gain such recognition, within the film festivals, and the Emmys, and then, just after Michael died, we won the GLAAD award for Special Recognition this year.  We don’t even fit into one of their categories!  They found a way to acknowledge this project.  If another Emmy happens again, that might be another one to put up on the shelf for After Forever that would be beautiful, and I couldn’t have done it without Michael.

For the Daytime Emmys this year, what category have you entered Riley’s Unforgettable School Project?

KEVIN:  We are not a series this year, we are a daytime fiction special, and the “Daytime Fiction Special” category is a special class.  It’s anything that’s digital in the construct of less than 40 minutes.  NATAS (National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) is being bombarded with so much content, they’re trying to find ways to put categories together.

Photo: JPI

So, now, when we last saw Days of Lives’ Dr. Craig Wesley, where was he? (Laughs)

KEVIN: (Laughs) He was in a flash from the past or something in the DOOL app’s Last Blast Reunion series. I had a fun time working with Patrika Darbo (Nancy) and Nadia Bjorlin (Chloe), once again.

So, if they were to want Craig to come back to DAYS, would you be all for it?

KEVIN:  Hell yes!

Photo: JPI

Now, what story would you want to be told involving Craig? 

KEVIN:  When Craig was first on the canvas in Salem, there was a lot of mustache twirling and a lot of hand wringing.  He was always plotting; most of the time with Nancy.  It was kind of this high drama, evil villain storyline being told, but when the writers created an opportunity for us to be on after those first three months by bringing on Chloe without a father, there was something real about it.  It may have been told under the construct of soap opera storytelling, but there was a reality-based story about, “You have a daughter, and we are just now finding out about it?”  Then, finding a cure to her health was another realistic story, and finding out that Craig was her real father.  Anything that’s reality based is what I’m getting to.  I would welcome any job that brings me back and gives me an opportunity to dive into something real.

Photo: JPI

Would you welcome the opportunity to play a gay character on daytime; in a medium where there are very few represented in storylines?

KEVIN:  I’d have no problem with that.  Do you know anybody who is starting that?  Let’s do it!  (Laughs) First of all, there’s nothing to hide anymore.  There’s nothing to pretend you’re not anymore.  I would think that bringing in a storyline that deals with anything outside the norm that we are used to seeing would be interesting.  How many times can you retell a story?  How many times can you set the same story up with another couple?  So, why not be diverse and have a stylized story being told through the lens of a gay person.

Photo: AfterForever

In closing, so many go through life without acknowledging people who had an impact them.  We don’t give pats on the back, often enough, and especially in Hollywood, where people can be very self-involved.  You have already paid tribute to Michael Slade in our discussion, but what gift from him is your personal takeaway?

KEVIN:  The gift that Michael really gave to me is to remember to be kind to myself and to others, and to acknowledge and salute the person who is in front of us, because we don’t know when we will have, or if we will have, another moment to do that.

Now below, check out the trailer for Riley’s Unforgettable School Project.  Then let us know, what do you think of its concept? Kevin’s thoughts on the passing of his collaborator on the project, Michael Slade? And, do you hope DAYS brings back Dr. Craig Wesley? Share your thoughts via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH’s Kin Shriner Talks on Franco’s Demise, Scott’s Budding Romance with Obrecht, and His Enduring On-Screen Partnership with Genie Francis

One of the most beloved actors in the history of General Hospital, Kin Shriner, currently finds his alter-ego, Scott Baldwin, in a new budding on-screen romance with none other than Liesl Obrecht (Kathleen Gati).

This comes on the heels of Scott learning the devastating news that his son, Franco Baldwin was shot and killed, thus writing-off the ABC daytime drama series, for now, popular actor, Roger Howarth.

Photo: JPI

Throughout his now almost 44-year-run on the ABC daytime drama series, Kin Shriner has brought his unique acting chops that helped mold the character of legal eagle Scott Baldwin into the humorous, at times cutthroat, endearing and many times heartbreaking character we have all come to love.’

 

In a brand new exclusive virtual sit-down interview with Michael Fairman on You Tube’s The Michael Fairman Channel, Shriner opens up about his history with GH and the times he stepped away to take on roles on Texas and As the World Turns, and then back again to the town of Port Charles and GH.

Photo: ABC

As well, Kin reveals his reaction to learning the news that Roger Howarth would be exiting the show as his TV son and how he shot the key emotional scene where Laura (Genie Francis) tells Scott that Franco had died.  Shriner shares that he does not see how when Howarth returns to the show in as a yet-to-be-revealed character, that it would be a stretch if the two were some how related, but that he will miss working with the talented Howarth as a scene-partner.

Photo: JPI

As to the women in Scott’s life, Kin addresses each of them from: Lucy (Lynn Herring), Bobbie (Jackie Zeman), Dominque (Shell Danielson), Laura (Francis), Ava (Maura West) – to which the character could never get that close to – and now Liesl (Gati), and working opposite all the powerhouse actresses who portray them.

Photo: ABC

For fans of General Hospital who have watched the series for decades, Kin also shares memories of working with his late TV parents, Peter Hansen (Lee), Susan Brown (Gail) and his friend and former GH castmate John Reilly (Sean), plus backstage stories with his longtime scene partner, Genie Francis.

Watch the entire conversation with Kin below.

Now let us know, are you all for the Scott and Liesl romance? Will you miss scenes between Scott and Franco?  Would you ever want to see Scott and Laura reunite romantically? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Y&R’s Joshua Morrow, Amelie Heinle, Mark Grossman, Hunter King and Melissa Ordway chat with Michael Fairman about being a part of and portraying the Newman Children as the show celebrates its 48th anniversary.Leave A Comment

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